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Heaney hoping offseason work pays off in 2020

Angels lefty incorporated weighted ball program with goal to keep him healthy
@RhettBollinger
February 28, 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Andrew Heaney made his Cactus League debut in the Angels' 7-2 win over the Rangers on Friday, and he said that he altered his methods this offseason in an attempt to stay healthy this season. Heaney has been bothered by both shoulder and elbow problems in

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Andrew Heaney made his Cactus League debut in the Angels' 7-2 win over the Rangers on Friday, and he said that he altered his methods this offseason in an attempt to stay healthy this season.

Heaney has been bothered by both shoulder and elbow problems in recent years, and he hasn’t entered a season without being on the injured list since 2016, when he made the Opening Day roster but underwent Tommy John surgery after just one start. He opened the previous two seasons on the injured list with left elbow inflammation. Heaney fared better in '18, making 30 starts and posting a 4.15 ERA in 180 innings, but he made just 18 starts in '19, recording a 4.91 ERA in 95 1/3 frames.

Heaney, who logged two strikeouts and yielded a run over two innings against the Rangers, incorporated a weighted ball program into his routine. He also started throwing earlier in the offseason, but at a slower progression to get his arm properly built up heading into Spring Training.

"It's not like any crazy stuff, but I'm definitely just trying to do all the right things,” Heaney said. “Eat right, exercise right, do all the right arm care, get here and get treatment, all the stuff. I know that's kind of been my bugaboo, getting out of Spring Training, so really it's something I'm always cognizant of, and now it's just putting in the work to make sure I'm healthy. I'm one game in, we'll see where it goes from there, but I feel good, feel like I'm doing all the right stuff and putting in the work."

The Angels need Heaney to be healthy, especially as they await more information on the status of right-hander Griffin Canning’s elbow. Heaney has plus-stuff, as evidenced by his 118 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings, but he also gave up 20 homers and is focused on throwing quality strikes, which is an emphasis of new pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

“He's kind of been talking about our process to get ourselves ready to go, and then really just more mentality,” Heaney said. “He's really big on getting in the right mindset and how you're attacking hitters from strike one, pitch one, and then kind of just being in the right mindset. That can take care of a lot of things."

The Angels, though, will also be a bit cautious with Heaney, considering he didn’t reach the 100-inning mark in 2019. New manager Joe Maddon didn’t have a specific number in mind, but he said it’s something they’ll continue to plan as they get closer to the regular season.

"We have to be mindful with the jumps in innings,” Maddon said. “A guy like him, he’s done a nice load of work in the past, but it’ll be a conversation with the training staff, the doctors and him to see what that bump is going to look like.”

Angels tidbits
• Right-hander Julio Teheran threw his first bullpen session since suffering hamstring tightness that caused him to miss his scheduled start against the Dodgers on Wednesday. Teheran remains on track to make his first start on Monday or Tuesday. He's expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

• Maddon wore a Bob Clear No. 49 throwback Angels jersey before workouts on Friday and he said that Clear was the best coach in franchise history. Clear was the club's bullpen coach from 1976-1987 while Maddon was in the organization as a Minor League manager.

• Former second baseman Bobby Grich joined camp as a special instructor on Friday and he introduced himself to the players during an on-field workout before their pregame workouts. Grich, 71, played with the Angels from 1977-86 and was a three-time All-Star with the club after seven seasons and three All-Star appearances with the Orioles. He was the first inductee into the Angels Hall of Fame in 1988.

"I really want us to reestablish this tradition with the alumni because teams that have are almost always better," Maddon said. "Grich has Hall of Fame numbers. Check them out. [Frank] Tanana isn't far off either. I don't think they're spoken about enough, so I want to bring them back in the limelight. I'm selfish. I think it's going to benefit us."

Up next
Right-hander Dylan Bundy will make his second start of the spring at 12:05 p.m. PT on Saturday against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Bundy is coming off a solid outing that saw him throw two scoreless innings with four strikouts against the Reds. Lefty Drew Smyly will start for San Francisco. Watch live on MLB.TV.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.